China's Kuangchi Science to Test Launch Near-Space Platform With Animal Passengers
(Yicai Global) Sept. 1 -- Kuangchi Science Ltd. [HKG:0439], a Shenzhen-based tech company, working to turn the dream of space travel into a reality for Chinese people with its Traveler near-space commercial platform.
The manned vehicle's subsystems are ready for a test flight carrying animals in the second half of the year, Chief Engineer Zhou Fei told Yicai Global. The Traveler can carry six people for five to six hours, with a stay of two to three hours at 20 kilometers above the Earth.A number of companies around the world, including Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic and Mr. Elon Musk's SpaceX, are trying to make private spaceflight affordable. Kuangchi Science has not yet said how much a trip on its Traveler, a capsule attached to a balloon, would cost.
Kuangchi Science President Liu Ruopeng has estimated the craft's cost at one-10th of a geostationary satellite. Yet, near-space technology may not be an attractive proposition for investors until its business model becomes clear."Hot-air balloons and airships are the two major exting near-space aircraft, and among a few investment targets, even fewer have essential business value," Mr. Niu Min, a founding partner of Chuangxiang Angel Foundation told Yicai Global.Himself an investor in several aerospace firms, Mr. Niu said he prefers to invest in rocket and satellite technologies. "Many enterpres can develop satellites, but few can launch them," he said. "Rockets are different. Outstanding private rocket makers can be found in the domestic market.">Near space refers to the area 20,000 meters to 100,000 meters above ground that serves as a transitional zone between aviation and aerospace. Near-space technologies used to be harnessed by the military. The US Air Force has defined multiple military purposes for near-space aircraft, including battlefield command, communications, intelligence gathering and msile defense.
China's Deluxe Family Holdings Ltd. [SHA:600503] tested its near-space platform Yuanmeng last October.